Definition of father in English:



  • 1A man in relation to his child or children.

    ‘how like your father you are’
    ‘the art collection was bequeathed to him by his adoptive father’
    • ‘I passed several families including fathers carrying babies on their backs.’
    • ‘The early comics, and this movie, are loaded with family drama - missing fathers, vulnerable fathers, fathers-gone-bad.’
    • ‘But official statistics are now recording an explosion in the number of both single-parent families and lone fathers within the UK.’
    • ‘It used to have a family atmosphere with fathers working with sons, but now there is no feeling in the place.’
    • ‘Annoyed that no such support exists locally for fathers and families like his in Carlow, he is now determined to set up a local group himself.’
    • ‘At long last fathers and their families are standing up and holding the Government and the family courts to account.’
    • ‘Just because a minority, sadly, needs paternalistic attention, everyone must be subjected to it; because of a few bad fathers, all good fathers must be suspect.’
    • ‘Working fathers help to lift families out of poverty and improve children's life chances.’
    • ‘This negative perception may be related to the high rates of physical abuse inflicted by both biological fathers and stepfathers on sexual offenders.’
    • ‘I asked him why he was going to pass a law that excluded fathers from families?’
    • ‘This transfer would be valid under the articles of the Company because of your family relationship with your father.’
    • ‘When the outdated system is scrapped, children will be able to choose the family names of their fathers or mothers upon their parents' agreement.’
    • ‘From the time they can understand, children take orders from older men in the family, especially their fathers.’
    • ‘With the industrial revolution, the number of families with wage-earning fathers began to rise.’
    • ‘Two fathers with young families are also missing.’
    • ‘Most married and had families, some with different daddies than their real fathers, but life went on.’
    • ‘Where are the three babies' fathers, and their families, in all this?’
    • ‘Children who have contact with their fathers following a family break-up suffer fewer behavioural problems, academics said today.’
    • ‘And they contrast not only as individuals, but in relationship to their fathers as begetters and whose reflections they bear.’
    • ‘It was a real family business with fathers and sons working together.’
    • ‘Chris has set up a website for lone fathers called Single Fathers Online.’
    male parent, begetter, patriarch, paterfamilias
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    1. 1.1A male animal in relation to its offspring.
      • ‘The exception was again the chick with few scorable bands, and we concluded that all those chicks were genetic offspring of their social fathers.’
      • ‘It's the females who raise the cubs, but the cubs' future depends on the protection provided by their father.’
      • ‘Mongolian gerbil fathers' initial offspring avoidance has been a mystery, in that by day three they're dutiful dads.’
      • ‘The males - exemplary fathers among amphibians - stay behind to protect the tadpoles.’
      • ‘The researchers chose to monitor three specific hormones because of their links to nurturing behavior in human mothers and in animal fathers.’
      • ‘Neighboring males often are the genetic fathers of extrapair offspring.’
    2. 1.2literary Ancestors.
      • ‘Now for the other point of view - what about outdoor rituals, and why do we need to purify when our ancestral mothers and fathers didn't even know about soap?’
      • ‘They've taken everything we had, and not just from us, from our fathers, and from our fathers' fathers.’
      • ‘They have great in-depth knowledge because they have been told by their fathers of accounts from their lives and their fathers' fathers.’
      • ‘Our mothers and fathers, recent and ancestral, worked faithfully to open doors shut hard by hatred and denial.’
      • ‘Of course we carried the sins of our fathers, and our fathers' fathers.’
      • ‘As the narrative shifts to the preacher's dream work, a girl reiterates her own account of the false prophecy she heard from ancestral fathers.’
      ancestor, forefather, forebear, progenitor, predecessor, antecedent, forerunner, precursor
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    3. 1.3An important male figure in the origin and early history of something.
      ‘he's held to be the father of abstract art’
      • ‘Filing past the body of the spiritual father of modern day Vietnam was a surprisingly moving experience.’
      • ‘Some modern military historians consider him to have been the father of modern guerrilla tactics.’
      • ‘Ranke is frequently presented as the father of modern historiography.’
      • ‘James Madison, the Father of our Constitution’
      • ‘Travelling north, David discovers the work of Richard Wilson - one of the founding fathers of British landscape painting.’
      • ‘Someone knows little of Thomas Jefferson, the Father of the US Constitution.’
      • ‘Its history can be traced to the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, in ancient Greece.’
      • ‘There are several candidates for a designation of the father of the space age.’
      • ‘This is the sport devised by the father of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin.’
      • ‘More important, he was a famous educator and the father of modern sports in Japan.’
      • ‘John Locke, liberalism's father, held that ‘the right improvement and exercise of our reason … is the highest perfection that a man can attain to in this life.’’
      • ‘As well as being the father of psychoanalysis, Freud might also be considered one of the founders of neuropsychology.’
      • ‘Yasser Arafat, the father of the Palestinian national movement for 35 years, fell into a coma and died.’
      • ‘Another of its famous guests was the father of communism, Karl Marx.’
      • ‘Shaulis can be considered the father of canopy management, although the term was not coined by him.’
      • ‘Teller was known as the father of the H-bomb for his work on developing hydrogen bombs.’
      • ‘Ibn Khaldun was a fourteenth century north African who is widely regarded as one of the fathers of historiography.’
      originator, initiator, founder, founding father, inventor, creator, maker, author, prime mover, instigator, architect, engineer, designer, deviser, planner, contriver, mastermind
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    4. 1.4A man who provides care and protection.
      ‘the prince is widely regarded as the father of the nation’
      • ‘It prescribed a lofty ideal for the state: the ruler was to be a father to his people and look after their basic needs.’
      • ‘In a typical company, the boss is a ruler and father to his subordinates.’
      • ‘The prime minister is very protective of the First Minister and has managed to rid the father of the Nation of his baiter-in-chief.’
      • ‘It is possible that at the approach of senescence he may make his peace with the world and become a benevolent father to his nation.’
      • ‘He now wants to be the father of the nation, a unifying figure.’
      • ‘It is a particular joy to be able to perform the song 'Congratulations South Africa' to our country's father, Mr Mandela.’
    5. 1.5The oldest member or doyen of a society or other body.
      leader, elder, senior figure, patriarch, senator, guiding light, official
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    6. 1.6(in Christian belief) the first person of the Trinity; God.
      • ‘In the Christian faith, it represents the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.’
      • ‘Jesus came from the bosom of the Father to make God known.’
      • ‘Three is the Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.’
      • ‘Every day the Lord took opportunity to do his Father's work.’
      • ‘At Calvary, Jesus and the Father cried out to all of us with one voice: ‘Your sins are forgiven!’’
      • ‘The Holy Spirit is as much the Spirit of Christ as he is the Spirit of God, the Father.’
      • ‘Next, the rebuilding of the Temple - the place that Jesus Christ would later call ‘My Father's House’.’
      • ‘When we keep the commandments of Jesus, He and His Father will abide in us, and we will have truly found Jesus!’
      • ‘He also rose again and sits at the Father's right hand to make intercession for His own.’
      • ‘There is only one way to the Father - Jesus Christ.’
      • ‘If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.’
      • ‘He is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - one Almighty God.’
      • ‘Furthermore, if Jesus were not both fully God and fully man, then his place with the Father and Spirit in the Trinity was a big hoax.’
      • ‘That's why the Father sent Jesus to us, so we could see God in a human face.’
      • ‘God the Father gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for sinners because He loved us.’
      • ‘We shall all be one even as Christ is in the Father and the Father in Him.’
      • ‘Specifically, those who do not know the Son cannot know the Father.’
      • ‘And we share in it with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.’
      • ‘Jesus is the Way to the Father, not the way to Heaven.’
      • ‘Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.’
      god, lord, lord god, deity
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    7. 1.7Used as a title of respect for an old and venerable man or for something personified as such a man.
      ‘Father Thames’
      • ‘In the course of the displays the visitor is taken on a journey from the source of Old Father Thames and down its 354 km course to the sea.’
  • 2(often as a title or form of address) a priest.

    ‘pray for me, father’
    • ‘Special speaker will be Redemptorist Priest, Father Johnny Doherty.’
    • ‘The celebrant was Father Martin Tobin, Curate.’
    • ‘The Priests of the Parish would like to thank the Dromantine Fathers who spoke at all last week's masses about the missions.’
    • ‘To celebrate its strong links with St Patrick's Church, parish priest Father Sweeney will unveil the school's new learning resource centre today.’
    • ‘Father Gregory prayed to be worthy of his priesthood, then prayed to be able to believe he should pray.’
    • ‘Later in 1937, the college was handed over by the French fathers to the Jesuit fathers.’
    • ‘We would like to welcome our new Parish Priest, Father Barney King, the new Curate in Omeath.’
    • ‘They came with two other American missionaries, Father Paul Schneider and Sister Christine Rhody.’
    • ‘With Father Gustave Weigel, Brown coauthored An American Dialog: A Protestant Looks at Catholicism and a Catholic Looks at Protestantism.’
    • ‘Three days later, on 10 September he was christened by Father Anthony Strele at Sevenhill.’
    priest, pastor, parson, clergyman, father confessor, churchman, man of the cloth, man of god, cleric, minister, preacher
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  • 3Early Christian theologians (in particular of the first five centuries) whose writings are regarded as especially authoritative.

    • ‘As St. Ambrose, one of the Fathers of the Church, wrote: ‘Let Mary's soul be in each of you to proclaim the greatness ot the Lord.’’
    • ‘Some of the early Church Fathers stated for the record that it was blasphemous to celebrate this festival.’
    • ‘The Fathers of the Church would hardly dispute a fundamental article of Christian belief which, with scriptural authority, is part of the Athanasian creed.’
    • ‘If each tradition derives from the Fathers of the Church, then the churches of East and West have the task of discovering the compatibility of their doctrines.’
    • ‘His books and essays on the Fathers of the Church focused on the theological struggles of the early Church to define the faith and the truth of Revelation in Sacred Scripture.’


  • 1 Be the father of.

    ‘he fathered three children’
    • ‘Coles has since remarried and fathered a daughter and son.’
    • ‘And these were guys - there about four of them - who went from sperm bank to sperm bank donating or who went to a few sperm banks and also then in their own private lives had fathered many, many children.’
    • ‘Territorial sires fathered a greater proportion of the offspring of territorial dams than floater sires.’
    • ‘The proportion of twins that are fathered by the same sire has been estimated as 26% and any effect of population size on this value is likely to be small.’
    • ‘Then there's Sir Paul McCartney, who was 61 when daughter Beatrice was born, and Sir Mick Jagger, who fathered Lucas with Brazilian model Luciana Morad when he was 55.’
    • ‘He had fathered six girls with assorted women before siring a boy 12 years ago with his current flame.’
    • ‘But because lorry driver Derek, 33, had fathered a child 17 years ago, the IVF procedure was not available to them via the NHS.’
    • ‘And here's the other issue that nobody's talking about: Michael has gone on, he's gotten a degree in nursing, he's fathered children with another woman.’
    • ‘Delving into history and folklore, American scholars came up with the ‘great’ discovery that President Thomas Jefferson had fathered a black child.’
    • ‘The patriarch of stock car racing's No.1 family, Lee spawned Richard, who fathered Kyle, who fathered Adam.’
    • ‘The drama of The Big Why is anchored largely in the tension between Kent and his long-suffering wife, Kathleen, as he fathers two children by other women.’
    • ‘Sean, aged 41, calls Kate's baby, fathered by her ex-boyfriend, his ‘daughter.’’
    • ‘He was married several times and fathered a few children.’
    • ‘Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for him if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate child?’
    • ‘In macho country, here she was living under the same roof at the same time with three husbands (only one of them being her legal spouse), each of whom had fathered children by her.’
    • ‘Four siblings, fathered by different men, did not legally exist in Japan because their mother failed to register their births or enter them in school.’
    • ‘But as is revealed in a startling new biography, he fathered illegitimate children and had numerous affairs.’
    • ‘Very few world leaders have fathered a baby while in office (to the envy of numerous PMs and Presidents nearer home, in need of Helpage pensions).’
    • ‘The action takes place in a tatty hotel managed by Helena who is currently seething at the news that her ex-husband has just fathered twins by his new wife.’
    • ‘He fathered an out-of-wedlock child and served 11 months in prison for tax fraud.’
    be the father of, sire, engender, generate, bring into being, bring into the world, give life to, spawn
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    1. 1.1Treat with the protective care associated with a father.
      ‘the two males share the fathering of the cubs’
      • ‘As this image suggests, the film's popularity may in part be attributed to the way it arouses and contains, in a highly condensed manner, a whole host of male fears not only about fathering, but about female sexuality itself.’
      • ‘The respondents identified tangible or practical barriers or resources for fathering.’
      • ‘In conclusion, it is tempting to draw parallels to classic demographic transition theory to explain men's attitudes toward fertility, pregnancy, childbirth, and fathering.’
      • ‘This gives the undergraduate students one example of a theoretical framework with which to view fathering.’
      • ‘She's consumed with motherhood right now and I'm consumed with fathering.’
      • ‘Some have said that after delivery the only real mothering and fathering difference is breast-feeding.’
      • ‘I'm a relatively open guy, but I have close friends with whom I haven't shared as much as I had with David in the safe instant intimacy of weekend fathering.’
      • ‘Far from suggesting that such shows are inappropriate to fathering, then, both texts attempt to reconcile reproductive masculinity with the eroticized male body through the figure of the son.’
      • ‘Indeed, Lewis consciously chose not to include ethnic minority fathers in his study and was therefore unable to explore the effects of ethnicity on fathering.’
      • ‘This integrative approach is fundamental to a comprehensive understanding of human development generally, and to fathering more specifically.’
      • ‘The culture of the market devalues mothering, fathering, and family life-sending a clear message that the work of raising children is in no way as important or as valuable as work done in the marketplace, work done for money.’
      • ‘The crux of their argument is that mothering - as opposed to fathering, or parenting, or care giving - is something unique, and of inestimable value.’
      • ‘By all means, read books or articles on fathering, listen to the experts etc. but make your own decisions.’
      • ‘The present study tested the assumption that children's sex role orientation is influenced by fathering.’
      • ‘Most studies on fathering have not considered the whole context of the family including father, mother, and children.’
      • ‘The primary barrier discussed by fathers was the difficulty of juggling work and other time demands, and their time for fathering.’
      • ‘Topics include mothering, fathering, marriages, family group processes, sibling relations, and families as systems.’
      • ‘The study paints a gloomy picture of the British attitude to fathering.’
      • ‘Each of these authors has a somewhat different perspective on fathering.’
      • ‘Overall, this early research on fathering found that masculine fathers tend to have masculine sons.’
      safe keeping, supervision, custody, charge, protection, keeping, keep, control, management, ministration, guidance, superintendence, tutelage, aegis, responsibility
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    2. 1.2Be the source or originator of.
      ‘a culture which has fathered half the popular music in the world’
      • ‘Mr Berkeley said: ‘Over its 60 years, Cheltenham has fathered an astonishing array of new music.’’
      • ‘The document was put together in September of 2000 by The Project for the New American Century, a conservative think-tank fathered by Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard.’
      • ‘He fathered a vigorous local school characterised by inquiry, independence, and a deep commitment to philosophy as a way of life.’
      • ‘In this, I was following in the steps of Alberto, who originally fathered this fun event.’
      • ‘Love ‘After the Goldrush/Harvest’ equally, heartfelt songs from the man who fathered the Rev and the Flips.’
      • ‘By the time Brown sought a third term, voters had started to resist some of the progressive legislation he fathered.’
      • ‘Most of the world's great inventions were fathered by people with the ability to conduct their minds on free-wheeling adventures into the nonexistent, the unconventional, the absurd.’
      • ‘Steve is 44 but it took him some years for his Road to Damascus realisation which fathered the advice in his book to ‘instantly stop working for a living.’’
      establish, institute, originate, initiate, put in place, invent, found, create, generate, conceive
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    3. 1.3Assign the paternity of a child or responsibility for a book, idea, or action to.
      ‘a collection of Irish stories was fathered on him’
      • ‘Where Freud suffered from bowdlerization, or having fathered on to him all sorts of odd ideas, Jung has been neglected.’
    4. 1.4archaic Appear as or admit that one is the father or originator of.
      ‘a singular letter from a lady, requesting I would father a novel of hers’
      • ‘I would Father no Brats that were not of my own getting.’


  • how's your father

    • informal Used euphemistically to refer to sexual intercourse.

      • ‘He didn't drag the ditzy blonde off to the first Travelodge he could find for a bit of how's your father, then impregnate her with their love child.’
      • ‘Of course we are having you on as it features spotty Herberts (well one spotty Herbert) bunking off work for a quick bit of how's your father with plenty of tonsil checking and tongue football, nearly choked on me Guinness I did.’
      • ‘There's a favourite old joke in political circles, about two government MPs sneaking into the dunnies at a Labour Party conference to have a bit of how's your father.’
      sexual intercourse, sex, lovemaking, making love, sex act, act of love, sexual relations, intimate relations, intimacy, coupling, mating, going to bed with someone, sleeping with someone
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  • like father, like son

    • proverb A son's character or behaviour can be expected to resemble that of his father.

      • ‘With Igor Oistrakh, like father, like son: the violin playing is warm, unaffected, and as shapely and unexaggerated as a classical Greek statue.’
      • ‘Get on the road and you might be the next master champ - like father, like son?’
      • ‘But then I realized afterwards that it's another reflection of: like father, like son.’
      • ‘Rumour has it ‘junior’ came into this world leading with his elbow - like father, like son, eh!’
      • ‘Prosecutors in New York say it's a case of like father, like son.’
      • ‘James had cut his teeth and earned his spurs and like father, like son, he has not been slow to court the Chinese.’
      • ‘The parallels between their deaths would not escape racist Southern papers, which would declare: like father, like son.’


Old English fæder, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch vader and German Vater, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin pater and Greek patēr.